In my last contribution to Health Zone (January 2007), I reviewed the American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ position statement on porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome eradication. As a review, the statement specifically says that:

“Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome is a significant production-limiting disease of swine that is estimated to cost the U.S. industry approximately $560 million per year. Control of the disease via traditional methods has not been effective in all cases; therefore, it is the position of AASV that eradication of the disease from the North American swine industry is the long term goal. AASV will take a leadership role by partnering with the swine industry to promote collaborative PRRS eradication efforts at the local, regional, and national levels, communicating the need and identifying sources of funding to support such initiatives, and assisting in the transfer of new PRRS-related information and technology across its membership, in order to achieve this goal.”

There were also three “take-home” messages from the article, including:

1) PRRS eradication is the long-term goal.

2) It must be a producer-driven, voluntary effort.

3) It must be based on science.

In this Health Zone column, I want to follow up on that first discussion, and update you on AASV action plans to achieve this long-term PRRS-eradication goal.

Let’s start by taking a look at each of the three “take-home points” and outline what’s happening at the AASV level.

Eradication: The long-term goal

By adopting that position statement, AASV has “drawn a line in the sand,” saying that its members cannot tolerate the status quo where PRRS is involved. It is simply too costly and is both a human and animal welfare issue.

It’s important to remember that AASV has not set nor proposed a specific timeline for this goal. We realize that it might take 10, 20 or more years to accomplish. Certainly the hope is that the goal can be accomplished sooner rather than later. However, the acknowledgement that eradication is a long-term goal signifies that a rushed, irrational program lacking in science will not benefit the industry.

Producer-driven and voluntary

AASV realizes that veterinarians cannot do this alone and producer support is critical for success. One area where AASV has been very busy is in developing teams to address specific areas of the effort. During the last year, AASV has assisted in developing PRRS working groups, both at the continental and state levels.

These groups are known as PRRS-eradication task forces — or PETF — which consist of representatives from academia, industry and the field. Their goal is to provide a way to further unify industry stakeholders in the effort to provide a plan for the long-term goal of eradicating PRRS from North America.

Some examples of PETF objectives are:

  • Raise the awareness that North American PRRS eradication is the long-term goal.
  • Facilitate communication of ongoing PRRS-eradication efforts.
  • Identify and organize PRRS-eradication working groups.
  • Develop educational programs and materials.
  • Write collaborative proposals to secure funding for PRRS-eradication projects.
  • Develop the long-range plan for North America’s PRRS eradication, and assist with its implementation and oversight.

An example of this style of working group is the Minnesota PETF — or MN PETF. The accompanying sidebar diagrams this group’s “road map to success.” As you can see, Minnesota’s plan contains short-, medium- and long-term goals that are based on research (see LEARN), field validation (see APPLY) and communication (see TEACH).

Speaking from personal experience, this type of collaborative model is a great way to enhance communication and hopefully it can be replicated across states to develop a PRRS-eradication network.

Based on science

AASV has been instrumental in the governance of large-scale funding sources for PRRS research such as USDA’s National Research Institute’s PRRS Coordinated Agricultural Project — or PRRS CAP — and the National Pork Board’s Initiative. These programs have been successful at bringing the industry answers to questions regarding PRRS virus area spread as well as biosecurity, aerobiology, persistent infection, immunology, viral pathogenesis, vaccinology, diagnostics and genetic resistance information. Scientists are working together to develop this information, and AASV has been there every step of the way, advising, critiquing and assuring that the industry’s needs are met.

In conclusion, AASV is dedicated to serving the swine industry and providing leadership and advice on critical issues that challenge its practitioner members and producer constituents. I hope that this article has convinced you that there is a logical, well-thought-out plan to manage PRRS that includes attainable short-term and long-term goals.

We will find solutions.